The Cost of Getting a Green Card

A green card, which may or may not actually be green, is a Permanent Resident Card. To have one is to be able to remain in the United States indefinitely and, most importantly, to be able to work here. Permanent Resident status is also the first step toward full citizenship, which is more advantageous than mere residency because it allows you to vote and run for office (but not President!), and protects you against deportation in the event that you are convicted of a felony. (It is a big, crucial first step. After you get to be a resident, citizenship is comparatively easy.)

The Woman Who Would Smuggle You Stateside For $35,000

In Requiem for a Snakehead, Patrick Radden Keefe writes a quick and fascinating profile of Cheng Chui Ping, aka Sister Ping, for The New Yorker. Sister Ping, who died of pancreatic cancer in federal prison last week, operated a “sophisticated immigration-smuggling ring” that brought thousands of people from Southeast China to the U.S. She is a hero, a villain, or both, depending who you ask:

Becoming a Legal Immigrant: $465